December 06, 2023

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Jharkhand Election Results 2019: A mistake too big for BJP to ignore.

BJP came as a secondary shock for BJP especially after it lost Maharashtra to alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress Party. While a definitive majority was certainly not perceived, such a loss was also not expected either, especially when the political wind blew in favour of BJP and yet, it could not harness it.

It is easy to analyse failures but to have seen them before the failures even happen is the hallmark of a true warrior. It seems BJP was too complacent to read the wind properly. To begin with BJP got away once with Raghubhar Das, a non-tribal import to Jharkhand who somehow rose to become the chief minister. During his tenure, Jharkhand so no real development while his tenure did mark a lot of road shows for development. What was worse is the infighting that happened within BJP. Talented leaders and party workers were ignored. Babu Lal Marandi, an allay of BJP sided with the Congress party. Raghubar Das, in an attempt to create total control over the region did not give tickets to the loyalists of Arjun Munda, the tribal face of BJP, or his wife. Raghubar Das was certainly not a people’s person either. Those who met him disliked his treatment. The bureaucrats in Jharkhand were not happy with him either and felt demoralized. He had short temper and reacted harshly towards BJP workers. The worst a leader could do was not to address the problems of the aprty workers or give them time to meet. The worse was the treatment meted to Saryu Roy, a talented leader who was side-lined and was given parliamentary Affairs ministry. Later SAryu Roy was to resign from the ministry. When his ticket was put on hold, he rebelled against Raghubar Das and decided to fight the elections against him instead. Incidentally, he defeated Raghubar Das from Jharkhand East constituency.

BJP did not take its ally AJSU along very well too. AJSU may not have a powerful presence, but it may have certainly cut into the votes of BJP if not anything else.

Jharkhand Politics is all about tribal issues. The only state after Chhattisgarh where tribal politics matters is Jharkhand. Yet BJP chose to ignore the needs of the tribal population and chose to fight politics on national issues. This may have been a political suicide of BJP. Das government’s move to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) and Santhal Pargana ACT did not go well with the tribal population of Jharkhand.

There was little inclination shown from the center towards Jharkhand as well. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi campaigned too little too late. No major schemes to woo the people of Jharkhand was shown.

The biggest failure of the BJP was seen in terms of political engineering. Its own allies like JD(U) fought the elections independently. Going out all alone in Jharkhand was not a well calculated gamble. Of all the parties, BJP should have realized that it cannot ride on the wave of the election results that brought Narenda Modi government back to power in 2019 and win the state elections as well. Voters have become smart. They look at both the issues separately. State is state, center is center. The social engineering based on caste and creed has to be put to use in order to win the elections.

BJP won 25 seats. JMM won 30 and Congress won 16 while RJD won 1. The vote percentage tells almost a completely different story. BJP got 33.4 % of the votes, JMM got 19% and Congress got 14% of the votes. Yet BJP stays out of power. It shows how the JMM and Congress got the mathematics of social engineering correct. It managed to cut through the votes of BJP while gaining for themselves a good number of seats.

The role of Prashant Kishor in devising a decisive victory for Congress and JMM cannot be ignored either.

It seems after becoming the home minister, Amit Shah has been too busy with issues unrelated to the electoral battles. The new party president of BJP does not seem to have the necessary skills to navigate BJP through electoral politics.

The loss in BJP could lay down a huge blow to BJP in Bengal politics and Bihar politics.  If things are not put back into control, there is a chance that the saffron flag may soon disappear from Bihar and may wean out further in Bengal too.

It is time that the BJP reads its enemies properly and not let them off easily. A few more losses and BJP maybe left red-faced before its party workers who may lose motivation. The elections at the center may have come of age, but the state level politics still belongs to the dark ages and that is how the BJP must play its game.  

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01 January 2020 16:34

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